Getting My Footnote

Copies of the newly published I Can Read It All By Myself: The Beginner Books Story by Paul V. Allen arrived at my house last week. It’s a highly readable and extensively-researched history of Random House’s Beginner Books, one of the most innovative and successful children’s book imprints ever created. Founded in 1957 by Ted and Helen Geisel (Dr. and Mrs. Seuss) along with publisher Phyllis Cerf, it created a whole new type of books for children aged 3 to 9. Some of its best-known titles include Cat in the Hat, Sam and the Firefly, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Go Dog Go and The Berenstain Bears. You probably read some of these titles when you were a kid, or had your own kids read them, maybe both.

So why am I, former rocker and crime fiction writer, extolling the virtues of this scholarly history of children’s literature? Well, first off it’s a top notch piece of work, but also because I was able to make a small contribution to the research. My father, Lynn G Fayman, provided photographic illustrations for three books in the series. Mr. Allen discovered my post about my dad’s photographic work and contacted me for an interview. I was happy to share what I remembered about the books and the people involved in creating them. Paul may be a children’s literary specialist now, but like me he used to play in rock and roll bands, so we got along well. Kudos to him for doing such a great job on this book.

As to the title of this post? Well, The Sunburned Fedora gets quoted on page 175. That represents the first, and probably last time, any post from this blog gets noted in a scholarly publication.

I myself make a brief appearance on page 167. Among the memories I shared was one of the nine-year-old me having a temper tantrum which provided the ending to a book called Do You Know What I’m Going to Do Next Saturday? My first creative effort to make it into print! There’s more to that story, but I’ll save it for a later post.

For the month of June 2021, there’s a discount for anyone who wants to purchase a copy of the book. Use the code PCA2021 to get 30% off at the publisher’s website.

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